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The Voices of Change

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In Mali, the youth represent a high percentage of the voting population. The youth today in Mali are besieged by the many failures of their country. To start with, many children are born into poverty. Despite the government providing free primary education, the existence of middle schools in their local areas is rare and high schools even rarer. If children even graduate high school, their next challenge comes in terms of finding a college/technical school close by. Most colleges/technical schools are located in the big cities like Bamako and Sikasso. All through these important years, the children also face the problem of overcrowded classrooms and teachers who do not have the adequate skills/training to teach. These issues apply to college level as well. In addition, corruption is rampant and a degree is easily bought. The result is a workforce that is ill-equipped to handle the growing economic need. The need for educated, well trained individuals is barely met, making companies hire graduates from the surrounding West African countries. Mali’s reported unemployment hovers dangerously at 35% with the real number being even higher.

So it isn’t surprising that the youth are big stakeholders in the upcoming Presidential elections. One of the things that the new President will need to resolve is the immediate employment need and also the long term human resource quality. This will involve big investments in education and infrastructure building.

In the Samaké campaign, the youth are an essential bloodline of our success. The youth see Yeah as a bright flame in their bleak future. They see the success that can come from hard work. They are inspired by all the things that Yeah has accomplished for Mali like building schools and bringing clean water and electricity to his community of 53,000 people. In Mali politics, there is not one leader currently who can list more than two things he has done for his people. Yeah, on the other hand, can talk about education, healthcare, clean energy and clean water, as he has made big impacts in all those areas. So the youth are attracted to the man who practices what he preaches.

It is in this energy that our youth bureau has been spreading the Samake message in the different regions of Mali. This past week, 10 members of the “Voices of Change” used notebooks and traveled to the different communes of Bamako to spread the Yeah Samake message. They each share the video about Yeah that they compiled and talk about the politician that is a doer. These guys are pumped up and I have been so impressed with their commitment. In a day and age when our teenagers like to sleep in on the weekends, these youth are gathering for meetings at 7am. They work constantly for more than 8 hours a day without complaint. Their commitment encourages me each day to fight a little harder. They are bigger stakeholders in Yeah’s success. This coming week, in conjunction with the newest school we were inaugurating, the youth visited the Sikasso area. Here they did a similar grassroots movement educating men, women and youth about Yeah Samake as the candidate that could bring much change and opportunities to Mali.

The response to the youth group has been amazing. The people of Mali are so tired of the change that has been promised and never delivered for the last 20 years. It is time that the page be turned on the old generation and old ideas. 20 years has proven that they do not work. If change does not happen, Mali will continue to be condemned to 5 more years of ineffective leaders and corrupt practices. The youth will continue to be brushed aside and the unemployment and illiteracy will only get out of control.

Today, I am asking for your investment. It’s not too late to join the fight for Mali. The youth have been marginalized long enough with lack of opportunities and mediocre leadership. Yeah and I are committed to fight this election to the end. However, we need your investment to help us end with a gusto. The youth of Mali deserve the chance to be given the opportunity to change their destiny. They can only do this if the opportunity exists. Yeah truly understands how to create opportunities. All the projects like the water pumps, clinics, schools, hospitals, and solar field have brought many opportunities and economic development to his area. Working with the previous government, he was even able to reopen one of the 5 cotton plants in Mali. His track record resounds with the youth.

Today invest in the youth of Mali and their future by donating to our campaign for Mali. The old leaders of Mali have profited of Malians and are counting on Yeah to fail. Do not let them win!

This journey would be impossible without your help, prayers and guidance. Donate today at http://www.samake2013.com or share this message with friends/family/acquaintances that can help Mali. Together we can build a stronger Mali.

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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Campaigning in the distant villages of Kati

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This past week was a busy one for the PACP campaign. Our youth leader Sibiri Mariko led our PACP delegations to a number of communities in Mali.

The first village that the PACP delegation went to was N’gorogodji which has about 1160 inhabitants and is in the Kati area . The village is one of the five villages that make up the municipality of Kambila. The delegation consisted of Sibiri Mariko, Sekou Traoré, Sidiki Sangaré, and Mahamane Maiga. To start of the meeting, the PACP representatnt of N’gorogodji Konimba Kané spoke. He spoke with great disgust at the politicians who visit the area and how all the promises they had made for the last 50 years had not been kept.  He then introduced the PACP delegation and allowed Sibiri Mariko to explain who PACP was and what they hoped to accomplish for Mali. He spoke of all Yeah has done for Mali already. The PACP leader in the area then urged the participants to vote for PACP and the young candidate Yeah Samake.  The major concern in this area is the high number of unemployed graduates. PACP committed to work hard to help better the lives of the people of N’gorogodji.  The residents there gave the party many blessings and urged them to continue their hard work.

The delegation also held a meeting with the youth at the national bureau of PACP to discuss Kati. There they met with the PACP youth leaders in the area and made plans on how to mobilize leaders within the community to better spread the word about PACP.

The delegation then continued on to Diaguinebougou where they met with the founding family. The members listened to the PACP delegation and made a firm commitment to support Yeah Samake and PACP.

The next day, the delgation now made up of Sibiri MARIKO, Abdrahame Mariko, Sékou Traoré, Moussa Maiga, Sidiki Dembélé and Mahamane Maiga visited Doubabougou. Doubabougou is a village and rural commune in the Cercle of Kati in the Koulikoro Region of south-western Mali. The commune contains 6 villages and has a population of 8,041+. The PACP leader there by the name of Moussa Kouyaté, introduced the PACP delegation and welcomed them to the area. Sibiri, after explaining about the party’s vision and who Yeah Samake is, called on the village to help change happen in Mali. The youth of the village had created a slogan:”Le changement radical” (The radical change) when they campaigned for PACP and Sibiri emphasized this same slogan as he spoke to the villagers. The villagers showered their blessings on the party of change and its delegation and urged them to continue their mission in all the villages of Mali.

Meetings like these are so essential. They help us determine what the needs of the Malian population are. No candidates will usually visit these areas and so the people have grown disillusioned with politics and politicians in general. Seeing candidates like Yeah Samake and the PACP party that take the time to travel to these far areas gives people hope that if they choose a leader like this, their needs will be met by the President. How can you bring your people hope and change if you do not know what afflicts them. PACP is the party of change. The party that will welcome a new day in Mali because it truly understands the chains that hold back many ordinary Malians from the different walks of life.

Many more meetings like this must happen. Today I ask you to donate $50 at http://www.samake2013.com which helps us pay the gas and chair rentals for the trip to one distant village. Today I ask you to become part of this journey and make the lives of ordinary Malians better by helping elect YEAH SAMAKE. This happens only if we can educate every corner of Mali about what their options are and who Yeah is. Today, I humbly come to you with open hands and ask for your investment in my Mali. 

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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Villages of Baga and Kandian welcome Yeah Samake

A few days back, for the first time in the history of the villages of Baga and Kandian, a presidential candidate paid them a visit. The event was historic  and the villagers turned out in droves to meet a candidate for the first time. That candidate was none other than Yeah Samake.

The Chief of the village of Baga had requested to have a face to face meeting with Yeah. To honor his request, Yeah traveled to this distant village to get the Chief’s blessing. The chief solemnly promised that all his people would vote for Yeah Samake because he was the only candidate that had taken the time to come and hear the problems and concerns in the village of Baga.

Yeah also paid a visit to the Chief of the village and the people of Kandian. The people there too were extremely surprised and very pleased that a candidate would come visit them. They stated to the PACP delegation that this was the first time a candidate had come to visit them and it was a symbol and proof that they did matter. They too promised that they would support the son of Djitimou.

Yeah is one of the only candidates that was actually born and brought up in the rural areas. So he is familiar with the conditions that 80% of Malians have lived in for the last 53 years. He understands what it means to not have enough to eat, what it means to not have a job after graduation, what it means to support a big family. Here is a candidate who understands what a majority of the Malian people are suffering from because he himself has been through all the conditions that besiege ordinary Malians.

I truly believe that Yeah is the candidate Mali needs at this critical time in its history. 50 more years of inept, corrupt government will destroy this great country beyond repair. 50 more years of bad education and pathetic healthcare will push Mali and all Malians back instead of driving them forward. Mali cannot afford failed government. Mali cannot afford an inept public system that is governed badly. Mali needs a leader who is willing to listen. A leader who has acted rather than spoken about what he will do. A leader who looks at Mali and sees the opportunity to raise a great nation, not the opportunity to become rich personally. A leader who will raise Mali so that she can look in the eyes of other African nations not bow down at their feet.

That leader is YEAH SAMAKE. Join us today as we speak up for Mali. Join us so that we can make Mali the great nation she was and the great nation she can become with good honest leadership.

Learn more about Yeah Samake and our party PACP at http://www.samake2013.com ( EN) and http://www.pacp-mali.com (FR)

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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Impacting Governance at the local level

On March 16th a delegation of Malian mayors and municipal leaders left hot, sweltering Mali for Utah. The goal was to attend a 3-day governance summit in Salt Lake City, Utah.

One of the key things that Yeah hopes to offer as President of Mali is further training and exchange between Malian leaders at the local level and local leaders in other countries, so that an exchange of ideas and best practices can happen. This falls in line with one of the key platform points of the Samaké campaign: decentralization of power. No one knows better how to solve the problems of the Malian people at the local level than the Malian leaders that govern them locally. By providing them the tools to make better decisions and implement different ideas, we are stretching minds to the endless possibilities that can give Malian people a better life and it all starts with educating and empowering local leadership.

The summit and the trip were made possible by a partnership between the Utah based foundation Empower Mali and Utah League of Cities and Towns. Yeah, as the Mayor of Ouelessebougou, Mali, led the delegation of local leaders. The really cool thing about this delegation is that its members hail from 5 of the 8 regions in Mali, even war torn Tombouctou.

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The delegation includes members from different political parties. It included the following members:
• Nampaga Coulibaly, Mayor, Misseni (Population: 45,000 people, Sikasso Region)
• Diarha Diarra, Mayor, Moribabougou (Population: 29,000 people, Koulikoro Region)
• Sekou Boubacar Doucoure, Mayor, Tele (Population: 2,078+ people, Tombouctou Region)
• Malik Guindo, City Council Member, Doucoumbo (Population: 13,000+ people, Mopti Region)
• Malick Keita, Mayor, N’Gabacoro (17,000+ people, Koulikoro Region)
• Ousmane Kouyate, City Manager, Ouelessebougou (Population: 44,000+ )
• Birama Traoré, Mayor, Kirané (Population: 40,000+ people, Kayes Region)
• Barakatoulahi Keita, Partnership Coordinator, Association of Malian Municipalities
• Mamadou Tangara, Mayor of Kénédougou, Sikasso City ( Population: 230,000+, Region of Sikasso)
• Delegation led by Yeah Samaké, Mayor of Ouelessebougou (Population: 44000+, Koulikoro Region)

The 3-day summit was jam packed with visits and discussions all over the state of Utah from Logan to Provo. City Councilman Carlton Christensen greeted the delegation on behalf of UCLT. The delegation also received a warm welcome at a luncheon hosted by the Hinckley Institute at the University of Utah. The Mayors were impressed with the student’s commitment and involvement in government studies. Prominent figures like Mayor Mike Winder and Director of the Hinckley Institute, Kirk Jowers expressed hope that a partnership between local leaders in Utah and Mali would be solidified through this exchange. The energy was high and this was a great start to the three day summit in Utah. The delegation, despite being extremely tired and jet lagged, was excited at the endless possibilities of what they would take away from this experience during the next few days.

During the remaining days, the delegation also visited facilities like the UTA Trax Station, Sandy City Fire Department, Waste Management Transfer Station, Salt Lake Valley Landfill, Parleys Canyon Water Facility and Salt Lake City Waste Water Facility. These are all new experiences for the group. These kind of high end facilities are not available in Mali. That is not to say there is no fire, waste or police facilities in Mali. The difference is that the level of resources committed does not even begin to compare. The delegation was impressed by the organization of these facilities, especially the police station, water and waste plants. They asked many questions on how these facilities worked at a local level to handle the State’s needs. The mayors discussed the significant differences between waste and water management in Mali and waste and water management in the U.S. and what measures they can take to improve access to and quality of water and handling of waste in their own communities.

The delegation also had a unique opportunity to visit with the Sandy City, South Jordan and Ogden City councils. This gave them the opportunity to compare these councils and their functions against similar councils in their own regions. Each of these mayors works together with the city council in Mali in their respective regions to determine things like budget and requirements within the city limits. So it was nice to see some similarity of a process and observe how things are done in the US vs. Mali. The delegation also met with the African representative Franz Kolb at the Utah Office of Economic Development and Lew Cramer, President of the World Trade Center. The key topic of discussion was how to realistically implement a partnership between the cities in Utah and the cities represented by the delegation.

A good starting point was determined to be via the school systems in Utah and the primary schools in their cities. The delegation was pleased and impressed by the discussion and with the prospect of business partnerships between cities in Mali and cities in Utah.

The trip to Utah also included a visit to beautiful Temple Square. The delegation had a meeting with Elder Robert Gay of the Quorum of the Seventy of the LDS Church. Elder Gay is in charge of employment, education, and new business startups worldwide. At this meeting, they discussed the role of the Church in helping young people to find work after they have graduated. Elder Gay also emphasized that if education is only in the cities then the youth will come to the cities and never go back to the villages. The organization Unitus that Elder Gay helped start up is in the process of building apps that can be used on tablets and phones to help educate individuals in the rural villages. They are also focusing on water innovation in rural areas, primarily in Africa. Elder Gay asked the delegation to send him an official invitation to Mali to for his education application pilot program. The group also visited Welfare Square where they looked in amazement at the scale of services offered to the needy through the thrift store and employment program.

The final high note was a visit to none other than Costco. It is amazing the things we take for granted. Seeing so much food and items in one place can be overwhelming. The delegation loved it! I remember Yeah telling me when he first went to Costco back in 1999 when he first went the US, the feeling of awe that went through him and the realization that all the food there could help feed his own people back home.

All the delegation members wished the trip in Utah could go on longer so that they could see more and learn more. That is definitely something we will implement next year when we invite yet another batch of municipal leaders and mayors to come to Utah and other parts of the US for an exchange. The delegation was pleased with the trip and spoke of plans to act on what they had seen and learned, particularly in regards to partnerships.

I am thankful to all the wonderful people in Utah who helped with the delegation, especially the Utah League of Cities and Towns for arranging the meetings, the Empower Mali Foundation for arranging everything on the Mali side, our volunteers who translated and helped where they could, Jen Leahy our amazing photographer and Brett Van Leeuwen who kindly arranged lodging for all the delegation members in beautiful Alpine, Utah. It is support like this that makes what we do a possibility. We are grateful for your support!

The delegation is currently in NYC where they had the opportunity to visit the United Nations and the current Ambassador of Mali to the US Al-Maamoun Baba Lamine Keita. Also NYC hosts a strong population of Malians. The delegation was excited to meet with and mingle with many members there. The Malians in NYC showed great hospitality to the delegation, a tradition not forgotten or absolved of even though they are many miles away from Mali. The Malian delegation will return back to Mali this week.

It is opportunities like these that will empower our local leaders to effect change in their own communities. Yeah has often said: “A mind once stretched can never go back”. Yeah, through his public policy education at Brigham Young University, Utah has learned many things about governance. He has been able to apply the things that will work and has moved Ouelessebougou from the bottom 10 cities in Mali to one of the top five cities in terms of development and transparency. He talked last year with the Sutherland Institute about how his education has helped him . You can watch that video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8nFS7AwrpU

It is essential that leaders be given the opportunity to see the endless possibilities and then pick and choose what will work to better their communities’ lives and livelihood. We want Mali to be a strong nation with a prosperous people. It is for that reason that we create opportunities like these. We hope that through these conferences and summits, that we can affect change at the local level. It is a possibility that can be made a reality with the right kind of leadership and implementing the right processes for change. Ouelessebougou, Mali is proof of that and the track record of Yeah Samaké displays that he is the leader of good, honest change and can make Mali a great nation.

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Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Past Posts

 

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Guiding Mali forward

If you had told me a few months ago what would happen in Mali, I would not have believed it. The events that have unfolded since the March 21st coup were an awakening. An awakening that Mali was not as stable a democracy that everyone in Africa seemed to think it was and that Mali had fallen the hardest when it seemed the most stable. Since then Mali’s way of life and the uncertainty in government has moved Mali back 20 years. It is unbelievable that one man could change so much. There seems to be little political drama these days and calm seems to be on the surface. The African Union has since disregarded the agreement that was signed with Sanogo giving him ex-Presidential privileges. However it remains to be seen how much power they have to even enforce it.  It is easier to give something than to take it away once given. The ripples of dissent are there. People are unhappy with the way things are playing in the North. The latest attack on Mali’s national treasures has caused such anger that it makes me question humanity a little. Mali has gotten more attention from the West with the destruction of Tombouctou’s mausoleums to its Sufi Saints, a UN World Heritage site. If sites/things can get this much attention, how come 250000 displaced refugees cannot get a similar reaction. Have we come to a time in our history where human life is cheap and dispensable but historical artifacts are not?

The refugee situation is becoming worse and the situation will continue to degrade unless the security is restored in the North. People flee when conditions are not safe. The Malian government has been unable to re-secure Northern territory. In addition the destruction on World Heritage sites and the increased punishment under Sharia law has made people desperate. People are so frightened that they are willing to leave homes, land and family behind. Just last week, a woman carrying her baby on her back who was getting water was flogged by Islamists. Her crime? Her head scarf had fallen as she tried to fill water. Today, she and her child lie in a hospital. In other incidents, young men have been flogged for stealing or associating with women. The young men of Tombouctou and Gao are so angered by the situation that they have taken to the streets with clubs and machetes. However while they are bigger in number, they are no match for Ansar Dine’s men that are equipped with guns.  Something has to happen soon from the Government of Mali. We cannot lose the future of Mali. Ansar Dine has proven its original mission of its own state to ensure the Tuareg’s well-being is polluted with an agenda of terrorism.

In yet another move to progress Mali back to democracy, Prime Minister Diarra advised ECOWAS of a roadmap to ending Mali’s two big issues: terrorism in the North and ability to hold credible elections after the one year transition. There is talk of creating more opportunities for political actors from other parties so that government can indeed be more diverse. Diarra has said that he would welcome the 3000 ECOWAS troops only if they were to rid the North of terrorists.  If all is kept on schedule and the new plan accepted then Mali would be on course to hold elections in May 2013. One of the biggest issues in Mali today is most political parties feel excluded from the government; hence instead of supporting Diarra they are constantly opposing his policies. If a government were created that held no majority, while it would bring in differing agendas, it will also give political parties the chance they seem to be asking for to make a difference. Hopefully, it will not become yet another political circus. Yeah has constantly called for a national unity government to be formed but has also cautioned against furthering personal agendas. He said in a recent debate:” When a nation is faced with its survival it must act in unison. The quarrels of interest will always exist but the existence of our territorial integrity must come before our partisan interests”.

Many people have asked us whether we plan on dropping out of the campaign. Giving up on Mali is not an option for us. Our efforts will be focused on making sure the right things happen for the Malian people in terms of getting refugee aid and contacting governments to advise them of how they can help.

It is essential that national unity be achieved first so that international support will return. Then a better equipped army can be deployed that has confidence in their leaders. After that the North can be regained and the terrorists kicked out. If we don’t do that soon, it may be too late. The time has run out and enough is enough. Once security and safety returns to the region, the refugees will return home.  Mali cannot afford another blunder. We are on the right path, but it is moving slowly

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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Calm returns to the South while the North Struggles

This past week has passed in relative calm. The capital has almost gotten back to normal and one would find it hard to believe that a coup ever happened. The junta seems to have backed down completely and it’s probably the sweet deal that Sanogo got for himself that is keeping him quiet. However, I am quite surprised other members of the 500-strong junta have remained quiet, which lends to believe that either Sanogo was really the undisputable leader or the rest of the junta is getting something as well that has been undisclosed. Dioncounda remains in Paris and is supposed to return sometime this week. Life continues in much the same way as it did before. Prime Minister Diarra is attempting to fill his role as leader of the country. He has a great responsibility and many are relying on him to push Mali back on track. Yeah had met with him last week to discuss ideas and solutions on how to get Mali’s issues of leadership addressed as well as the issue in the North. Yeah’s take is that without strong leadership and a plan in the South of the country where the government is based, the North’s issues cannot be resolved.

Last week Yeah also gave an exclusive interview to the well known newspaper L’Independent in Mali where he talked of the struggles in Mali. He advised that Mali should not accept ECOWAS troops on Mali’s soil killing Mali’s people in the North. The solution has to be bred on Mali’s soil. Also Yeah encouraged ECOWAS to work with the political class in Mali. With the issue in the North, Yeah said that it is important to involve well off neighbors like Algeria and Mauritania because ECOWAS does not have the logistics and money to support troops despite them wanting to send troops to Mali. Also the stakes are higher for these countries because if rebels/terrorists overflow across their borders, it could cause instability for them. You can read the entire interview here in English: http://samake2012.com/updates/2012/05/interview-with-malian-newspaper-lindependent/#more-1296 or here in French: http://www.maliweb.net/news/interview/2012/05/28/article,69486.html

For the most part, people are just watching and waiting to see what the non-partisan Diarra will do. As I have said before, as long as their leaders don’t make things worse, Malians will put up with it. Diarra seems to be a calming force amidst the chaos. Malians seem to actually heed his words. For the first time yesterday on National TV, he spoke to Segou soldiers on the issue in the North of the country. “I have always said that I do not support war, because it’s war that makes a child an orphan and it’s war that makes a woman a widow. But if we love our country, we must liberate it even if it’s through war, a war that will end the daily wars. A war that will open the door for peace and security because without peace we cannot have security and without security, there will be no prosperity for this nation,” the PM said. He spoke with the most passion and conviction than I have ever seen him have. He talked of how Mali would not concede any part of its land to the rebels. Talk is all well and good. The thing that is most concerning is that Mali currently does not have an equipped army. The 7000-strong army that is reported by statistics websites like CIA may be correct as far as man count. However, the fact remains that the army lacked the arms before the coup and they continue to lack the arms. To send them into the North without the equipment would be like signing their death sentence. Apparently, Western countries, especially America had given ATT a lot of arms and vehicles to fight off the rebels before the coup. Rumor has it that ATT sold or gifted much of this to the rebels themselves when they initially came over to Mali after Libya’s Gaddhafi fell. There are no reports one way or the other to corroborate the story. Fact remains; the army is defenseless and has the manpower but not the equipment to fight.

What Mali needs immediately is strong leadership in the south that has a plan on how to re-unite the country and ultimately gain back the territories in the North. The Tuaregs are a minority and not even they are in control right now. Control seems to be shared between Ansar Dine, MUJAO, AQIM and MNLA, all terrorist factions. So while the South seems to be gaining some control, the North is struggling with a terrorist problem and a refugee issue.

UNICEF despite increasing the aid it is providing has been warning about the sanitary conditions at the camps as well as the demand outweighing the supply. Ultimately, it will be the women and children that will bear the brunt of this refugee crisis. This refugee crisis started with the drought but has been intensified by the crisis in Mali. The problem has been overlooked long enough as the world’s attentions focused in South Bamako. In addition governments of Mauritania, Algeria, Senegal and Burkina Faso also have to deal with the refugees that fled across the border. One country’s crisis is becoming West Africa’s dilemma. This is just one big mess and it needs the international community to bring light to the growing humanitarian crisis. On the other hand there are terrorist groups operating freely in the North. They are restricting aid and making life very hard for residents by imposing Sharia law. There have also been reports that they are damaging World Heritage sites in Tombouctou that have been around for centuries. Imagine the destruction of the Great Wall of China or the Taj Mahal. As an Indian, I would be angered if anything happened to a symbol of my culture. Even the youth of the North have mobilized themselves, fed up with the lack of leadership from Bamako.

Finally, given ECOWAS’ failed track record to help bring civilian rule to Mali, ECOWAS has designated a new representative from the country of Benin. Let’s hope the new leadership will not bully Mali and cause more issues.

Strong leadership first will allow Mali to resolve this crisis and attempt to resolve the growing issue in the North. The question remains, will Prime Minister Diarra be that stabilizing force that Mali desperately needs and will ECOWAS finally include all political forces in Mali rather than enforcing their will.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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The clock is ticking

On April 12th when Diacounda Traoré was sworn in as Mali’s interim President, the clock started ticking on his 40-day term. His responsibility was to plan when elections would be held and to help resolve the issues of the Northern region in terms of security and the refugees. Diacounda’s inauguration speech was punctuated with severe rhetoric against the rebels of the North, going so far as to even threaten war against them. 30 days into his term, one can clearly see that talk is cheap and that Diacounda has fulfilled very few of the promises that he stated when he was sworn in. This is another reason for Malians to continue to distrust the old guard that has watched over the politics of Mali for the last 20 years.

To be fair, I should say that his task is no easy task. The task remains difficult to reunite a country in which not only the North remains separated by the South, but where different political parties have been reaching out in different tangents. The situation has not been helped by a counter coup attempt by the ex-President’s loyalist forces. Nor has it been helped by threats from ECOWAS on deployment of an army of 3000 foreign soldiers on Mali’s soil to help gain the territory back but more importantly make sure the junta returns to the barracks. These threats have in effect gone against the April 6th agreement between the junta and ECOWAS and have caused great anger among the junta, who see the constitution of Mali being changed by foreigners and power quickly slipping away. By extending Diacounda’s 40-day mandate, the constitution that was quoted when the coup first happened, will in effect be violated. After the whole rigmarole about violating the constitution initially, it seems like a farce for it to now be violated to serve external preferences.

I have seen Diacounda do little in these 40 days other than meet with individuals that cannot influence the course of Mali’s future. The important task of gaining back Mali’s northern territories seem pushed to the back burner. Even more crucial, the refugee numbers have now swelled to 235,000+ with numbers getting higher each day. The US State Department has in effect stated that they hold the junta directly responsible for the mounting suffering of the Malian people.  While the junta has contributed to the issue, to blame them whole heartedly seems unfair. There have been many players who could be blamed for the situation in Mali: the old guard ATT, the politicians that have been on the scene for 20-30 years, the junta, the flip-flopping young politicians that go where the power is and also foreign interests.

Now, the one thing that might explain Diacounda’s relative lack of media presence is that the junta still controls the national TV. Each evening the screen is filled with events that seem to embolden the junta’s presence at community events. It is almost as if the stage is being set for them to take over when Diacounda’s 40 days is over. This is something the international community and especially ECOWAS (the body of African countries) would prefer not to happen. By establishing military rule, the junta would be returning the country to a similar period 20 years ago before democracy was established. The events in Mali have already proven that Mali’s democracy was a superficial one with leaders lining their pockets and fulfilling personal ambitions rather than truly answering the needs of those that put them in power. Captain Sanogo, the military leader, has already shown that he has the ability to gain the support from the Malian people that has lacked for so long. However, the constant quashing of the national TV does not bring any comfort and is an early indicator that dissenters could be silenced.

Just last week, I was headed to the PACP headquarters right by ex-Prime Minister Modibo Sidibe’s house. Modibo Sidibé was the one rumored to have stolen a lot of money and used even more to finance his Presidential campaign. He has already been arrested twice by the junta. As I was there, I saw few motorcycles carrying heavily armed guards. They were hunting for Modibo. The first thought that entered my mind was, “Why are you here. Should you not be in the North protecting your people?” It seems more and more that the junta is using the military to advance their personal protection and needs.

Nevertheless, the people of Mali remain embittered by the past 20 years of ineffective democracy and regardless many people see the junta as the lesser of two evils. Especially, since they provide a non-politically affiliated group that ended an ineffective democracy. Sanogo is viewed by many in Mali as a leader, and this is an impression that will not be dispelled anytime soon. I wouldn’t be surprised on May 22nd if the junta reclaims the Presidency and Sanogo remains in power till elections happen next year.

I cannot decide if this is a good thing or bad thing. While this is not an ideal solution, most other solutions will cause further unrest and delay a resolution to the important issues gripping the North. For now, Mali seems to be biding its time with Diacounda, waiting for a true leader to emerge to take the reins of the country. Hopefully the new transition leader will be one that makes more progress than the country has seen in the last 30 days with the least amount of unrest.

10 more days till the hourglass turns once again in Mali to begin the next phase towards determining Mali’s future.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2012 in Past Posts

 

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